The gold deposits in many places, especially in dry diggings, could be very deep, reaching down to the bedrock, and a well or shaft had to be dug to reach the pay dirt. When these holes were too deep for a man to throw the dirt out with a shovel a windlass and bucket would be used to remove the dirt, much like one would hand dig a well in those days. For very deep deposits men would often join forces but in places where the ore was not so deep each miner would have his own hole where he would collect the gold bearing soil above the bedrock as far he dared to excavate.
Sometimes shafts were sloping or even horizontal tunnels that bored several hundred feet into the hillsides. These miners were out of sight of others in the surrounding area but if there came a disturbance they would pop from their holes like coyotes, so it was said, and the holes themselves became known as coyote holes and the mining technique as coyote mining. One particular gravel hill near Nevada City was so perforated that it came to be called Coyoteville.